D&AD New Blood 2014 Review

I have recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam university and last month I was fortunate enough to be picked to exhibit my final year work at the D&AD New Blood exhibition in Shoreditch, London. Seeing as I’ve worked like a trooper this year this made me very happy for two reasons:

  1. I could show off my proudest achievements of the year to other students and professionals in the design industry
  2. I could have one last blow out in London with my course mates.

Arriving at the Old Spitalfields Market I was confronted with “The Official D&AD New Blood Massive Exhibition Entrance Sign” and proceeded to browse the hilarious decorated boards surrounding the bustling exhibition. Designed by The Office of Craig Oldham, the stark, large-scale infographics that formed the identity for the exhibition itself worked wonders for the younger students. The youthful banter in the tone of voice invited participation through flow charts, “selfie points” and a “wheel of muses”. These quirky messages throughout the show were eye-catching and entertaining for us lot, and this quickly made me realise that this wasn’t going to be the strictly professional affair that I thought it would be. But thinking about it, isn’t the show supposed to be branded towards the professionals and prospective employees we were there to meet? Maybe a more sophisticated identity could have helped to make the whole experience seem a little more like work than play.

Our stand for the Sheffield Institute of the Arts this year was based around the message of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, in which our work was presented in wooden pigeon holes (which we carted all the way from Sheffield!). The concept was strong, with a beautiful catalogue that was designed to match the stand. However, the format of the stand didn’t do our incredible talent justice (if I do say so myself). The pigeon holes were dark and uninviting, so they were seldom explored by passers by. Also, the sheer amount of work we had on show (a record 21 students, just for our institute) meant the quality of work was sort of diluted. Fewer students with straightforward presentation would have worked to help the talent shine through in the vast sea of graphic design at the show.

Beyond the criticism, it was a really great experience! Speaking to like-minded students, seeing some really inspiring work and exchanging ideas and enthusiasm was brilliant. The few people from industry I met were also very complimentary of our work and this was a great way to boost the old ego.

Jack Fairhurst,